Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In Their Own Words -- Dr. Lee Meserve

Dr. Lee Meserve has just about seen it all. With 37 years at Bowling Green, he's seen more athletic events than almost anyone. As the Faculty Athletics Representative at BGSU, he represents the department in a variety of ways. This is the first of what will likely be many posts on this blog about his memories of BG athletics.
As the spring of 2010 marks the end of my 37th year at BGSU, the beginning really seems like ancient history (I’ve been here for over a third of the institution’s existence!). But my knowledge (I use the term loosely) of BGSU athletics began even before that. My first year out of graduate school (1972-73) I was hired as a Visiting Assistant Professor At Vassar College in Poughkeepsie NY. After moving into our apartment there, my wife Marge and I were watching the ‘72 Olympics on TV and watched a rather odd looking young man accept the gold medal for the 800 meter run and stand wearing a ball cap through the national anthem. We heard the name Dave Wottle, and the name of his institution, Bowling Green State University for the first time. Who would have guessed that the following fall, September, 1973, Marge and I would be Bowling Green residents and I would be setting out on a journey as a faculty member in the Biological Sciences Department, and that I would become a close colleague of Sid Sink, one of Dave’s fellow BGSU runners 24 years later, when I became Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR).

That first year at BGSU was a bit sparse with regard to athletics interactions; I spent much time trying to figure out how to be a tenure track assistant professor. Nonetheless, having grown up in New England (Maine to be specific), I was excited to learn that BGSU had a renowned ice hockey team. We bought tickets to three games that first year. The following year, we became Falcon Club members, and bought season tickets for hockey which we have held every year since than. Those two pieces of plank in the ice arena have really become accustomed to Meserve behinds over that period of time! I also had the ‘pleasure’ of getting hit in the head with a puck lobbed (not a wicked slap shot) over the glass. It hit flat rather than on edge so it didn’t even break the skin; however, I did feel like I was about to grow an antler! During those years we had the excitement of watching Roger Archer, Mike Liut, Al Sarachman, US Olympians Doug Ross and Bob Dobek (1976) and ‘Miracle on Ice’ guys Ken Morrow and Mark Wells (1980), the three Newtons (Tom, Bruce, Willie), and of course the national champion 1984 team, and two Hobey Baaker Award winners (George ‘The Beagle’ McFee and Brian Holzinger) and many many more all skating on the BGSU Ice Arena surface. I am pleased to see that the institution has taken steps to restore the Ice Arena physical plant and to bring back the excitement and status of BGSU hockey. Of course at the same time the Ice Arena was the site of development of Scott Hamilton, whose father Ernie was my colleague in biology. Marge and I always attended the ice shows that Scott hosted that featured the best figure skaters in North America.

The second set of season tickets we bought, beginning about our second year here, was for football. This began with the era of Denny Stolz and has continued through the additional five coaches to present day. About this time I began to become aware that each semester there was a cohort of student-athletes in my anatomy and physiology course. I also noted that they either did as well as the average non-athlete in the course, or in many cases, better than the average. It appeared that their discipline in the athletic venue in most cases carried over to the academic side. I decided to begin lobbying for elimination of the phrase “dumb jock.” because I was convinced that any varsity athletes who fit that descriptor were few and far between. I extract an example from the football squad, one Tom Shehab. Tom came to us as a Biology/Pre-Med major with 15 advance placement credits, essentially an entire semester of work completed before setting foot on campus. He played football and competed his degree in seven semesters, also doing research with one of my colleagues in Biological Sciences at the same time. He graduated with no grade less than A, and waas admitted to all three medical schools in the state of Michigan (his home state). He went on to complete medical school, residencies and fellowships, and is currently a member of a gastroenterology practice in Ypsilanti, MI. “Dumb jock”? I think not. I have had the pleasure (wearing my pre-health professions advisor hat) to recommend several dozen athletes for admission to the various post-graduate health professions schools.

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